January 24, 2013 in Washington Voices

Rockford vote could free up funds for water system

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The town of Rockford is putting a law enforcement services levy on the February ballot to pay for its law enforcement contract with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The idea came from the tiny town of Spangle, which successfully passed a similar levy in 2011, said Rockford Mayor Micki Harnois.

The proposal would raise $33,000 by imposing a levy of $1.43 per $1,000 in assessed home value. The town is seeking a one-year levy to get an idea of what residents think about the concept, Harnois said.

“We just felt it was taking too much money out of our general fund,” she said.

If the levy passes, Harnois said, the town could use the money normally spent on law enforcement to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant and the town’s water lines. Some water lines are so out of date that they are made of galvanized steel, she said. “Our system is so old,” she said.

There was a water line break Sunday that left nine homes on the east side of town without water.

The annual law enforcement fee has been running close to $30,000, she said, despite the efforts of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to keep costs manageable. “They can go up to a 10 percent cap,” she said. “He’s been trying to keep it at 5 or 6 percent max. It’s really tough because they don’t know what their budget is yet. It’s not his fault.”

Harnois said the town hasn’t had much time to educate residents on the levy and how it would be used, which worries her. “We just didn’t get the word out,” she said.

If the levy does not pass in February, Harnois said she would recommend running it again.

Newman Lake EMS levy

Spokane County Fire District 13, more commonly known as Newman Lake Fire and Rescue, has a replacement emergency medical service levy on the February ballot. It is a renewal of an EMS existing levy that collects 50 cents per $1,000 in assessed home value, said Fire Chief Keith Yamane. The levy rate is not changing.

The new levy would take effect in 2014. “It’s a quarter of our budget,” Yamane said. “That affects day to day operations.”

Yamane said he hasn’t put together a worst-case scenario of what the district would do if the levy is not approved. “If it failed most likely we would run it again later this year,” he said. “The reason we’re running it early is because you never know.”

The district has three paid staff members, including the chief, and 24 volunteers.

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